December 7, 2008 (PARIS) — Rebel chief Ahmed Abdel Shafi dismissed accusations made by his former allies in a faction of the Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM), saying instead that he had returned to Darfur from southern Sudan some time ago. He also denied involvement in the alleged killing of a rebel commander there.
Speaking with Sudan Tribune from Darfur the rebel chief turned down the accusation made by his former comrades in the SLM faction that he had been formed in Juba on November 14, 2007 where he was designated as chairman along with Mohamed Ali Klay as Secretary General.
A statement issued yesterday by Isam Al-Haj, the spokesperson of the rebel faction, said the chief commander of the group, Sedig Abdel Karim, had been arrested and killed near Wau, capital of West Bahr Al-Ghazal State. He also said that Abdel Karim had clashed with the SPLA soldiers in the area.
The killed chief commander had been on a mission to persuade commanders who were in Wau with Abdel Shafi to leave for Darfur, Al-Haj said.
In November 2007, nine Darfur rebel factions decided to reunite their political organisations and military structures under the name of SLM-today-in-Juba. The reunification was sponsored by the southern Sudan government and AU and UN envoys for Darfur.
The concerned factions were from SLM/A (6 factions and military sections), the Justice and Equality Movement-Field Revolutionary Command, the Democratic Popular Front (DPF), and the Sudanese Revolutionary Front (SRF).
Abed Shafi said that the people who had participated in the Juba meetings were politicians and not military figures. He also added that he had returned to Darfur since January and he does not understand why yesterday’s statement sought to involve him and southern Sudan authorities in this story.
He said that his suspension by the group is “nonsense”.
He added that the move was motivated by his rejection of the Qatari initiative, while they were willing to take part in the talks.
Also he informed that the four people who decided his suspension where not qualified to take such a decision and he claimed that he has the support of many members of the leadership council of the faction.
The move is considered by observers as a setback of the efforts undertaken by the SPLM to help resolve the Darfur crisis.
The former rebel SPLM had been criticised by its peace partners the National Congress Party who saw the move as an attempt to put pressure on them. In addition, some of the Darfur rebels also considered the reunification efforts as meddling in their affairs.
Last July two rebel factions walked out of a coalition shaped under the sponsorship of the Juba government three months later. Adam Ali Shoggar, Khamis Abdella Abakr (SLM/A) and Ibrahim al-Zubaidi, (United Revolutionary Front) announced in a joint press statement their withdrawal from the United Resistance Front (URF). They further accused their former partners of working to sabotage their leadership within their own organisations.